What Have You Invented For Me Lately?

Erich Kunhardt, a Physics professor writing in the Times, says academics should be required to invent things, in addition to doing research and teaching.

Start filing patents, people!

Or not.


Suresh Venkatasubramanian said...

That's patently silly (forgive the pun). First of all, I fail to see the huge distinction between "research" and "invent". There are clearly inventions that are not research, and vice versa, but overall one of the goals of good research *is* to innovate.

Secondly, the US patent office procedures are a mess. Pretty much anything can get patented, and thus the value of a patent is highly questionable. If someone's six year old child can get a patent for a swing, then the system is definitely broken (this was an NYT article some time ago).

I work in a Bell-Labs style research lab in a company and filing patents is encouraged in my line of work. However I can't see what benefit a professor can get from filing patents, even if there are incentives to do so. It takes time away from research for one, and makes a researcher focus on separating himself/herself from others artificially, rather than trying to unify and distill knowledge.

Suresh Venkatasubramanian said...

sorry for the double post. More thoughts here